Wilfred D. Howell '28 (Football, Boxing, Track)
Bill Howell was a two-sport star who helped lead the revival of track at Catholic University as a freshman in 1925 and later played in the NFL.
“He appeared on the track and his wonderful stride, coupled with plenty of speed, won him a place on the mile relay team that represented the school at the Penn Relays and took third prize,” according to a March 1927 article in CUA’s student newspaper, The Tower. “He also took part in all the other meets held at home and gave some great running exhibitions.”
Howell, born in Bath, Canada on April 21, 1904, attended Cony High School in Augusta, Maine. He played end on the Cardinals’ 1924 freshman football team, which did not allow a touchdown all season. The following year he helped the varsity go 4-4, winning each game by shutout.
In 1927 the senior played in the East’s first night football game, a 12-0 victory at William & Mary. The club’s 5-3 mark was its first winning season in 12 years. CUA punctuated the campaign with a 27-21 victory over crosstown rival George Washington on Thanksgiving Day before 15,000 fans at Brookland Stadium. It was the first Homecoming game in school history.
“Whatever he did, he did well and in the doing gave the best that was in him,” according to the 1928 Cardinal yearbook. “With a tenacious, iron-bound, manly courage, Bill has accomplished many a victory on the athletic field, in the classroom, and, what is more important, on the field of honor.”
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Howell played end for the NFL’s Boston Bulldogs in 1929. He appeared in four games (one start) for the team, which finished 4-4 and folded before the next season.
In the spring of 1926, The Tower said Howell “again was a member of the relay team that, this time, took second place at the Penn tourney. He also took several first places in home meets and won his letter.” In recognition of his success, experience and leadership, Coach Jiggs Donohue named him captain his junior year. Donohue had restarted the track team two years prior.
Howell married Patrice Rice, daughter of the Cardinals’ second-winningest basketball coach and fellow CUA Hall of Famer, Fred Rice. Their granddaughter, Sharon Hodges Repass, was the first woman inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
Howell was appointed the first national secretary of the CUA Alumni Association and was head of the university’s Business Office. He died in Washington, D.C., on August 23, 1981 at 77.